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A Last Look at Occupy Cal on Wednesday

By Steven Finacom
Friday November 18, 2011 - 08:14:00 AM

By Steven Finacom 

The “Occupy Cal” tent encampment on the Mario Savio Steps and Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley appeared to have a relatively quiet day on Wednesday, November 16, 2011. 

Protestors came and went, there was a stream of curious spectators, and a handful of UC Police watched from a distance. Both sides—the University and the demonstrators—appeared to be taking a pause after the vigorous confrontations of last week, and last night’s climactic “General Assembly” that filled Sproul Plaza with thousands and voted to set up the tents again in defiance of UC directives. 

Each time I passed by—before work, on breaks, at lunch, and after work—the mood was subdued, but not somber. News vans kept vigil in nearby parking lots and there were frequent interviews being conducted. Some classes assembled on the nearby lawns or steps, while other individuals relaxed on the lawns or worked on lap top computers or new signs. 

Buses to take demonstrators to San Francisco and UC Police cars lined Bancroft Way in the morning, two vehicles deep. On the adjacent Barrows Lane there was a line of Alameda County Sheriff’s cars. 

Some protestors struck up an impromptu band in the early evening with a piano, violinist, and drums on the upper steps Others carefully laid out decorations on the Free Speech Memorial inset into Sproul Plaza.  

A “tent” of branches over carpet stands adjacent, as does an abstract wooden arch, both erected on Tuesday during the day. One of the lawns sports a “Regent-o-Saurus” made out of paper mache, also on Tuesday.  

The structures, decorations, scattered furniture, and closely packed small tents, gave the demonstration a somewhat festive, neo-“Burning Man” vibe today.  

Small pieces of Astroturf had been spread on the steps. Someone had started to line the light poles in Sproul Plaza with black and white photographs of students captioned with quotes, in a style similar to a recent University publicity campaign. 

A “Big Game Bonfire” banner, hung from the upper balcony of Sproul Hall, was an incongruous topper to the scene. A “Stanford is w/Cal” banner that had been carried in the Tuesday protests hung below a first floor window of Sproul Hall. Two floors above a blue and white “Occupy” banner with a peace sign hung from below an office window. 

Across the front of the steps was a display of pictures and posters recalling the Free Speech Movement. 

Half a plaza north, Gideon’s spent the morning, as they had on Tuesday, giving out free copies of the New Testament. They established their own little temporary encampment of signs, boxes, tables, and a moving cart adjacent to Sather Gate. 

Here are photographs from the day.